Don't Stop Moving
HME providers grew a lot over the past several years. They must maintain their momentum.
- By David Kopf
- Mar 01, 2017
A body in motion will remain in motion
unless acted upon by an outside force. That’s
from Newton’s First Law of Motion, and I’ve
been thinking a lot about it in terms of where the
industry currently finds itself. We’re at a point
where the industry is now seeing a light at the end
of the tunnel after years of struggling, and that’s
leaving me feeling a little unsettled.
What do physics and the business of providing
home medical equipment have to do with each
other? Well, at first blush maybe not a lot, but I
have a personal relationship with Mr. Newton’s
At a fairly young age — early teens — I got into
backpacking. It’s an amazing pursuit for a young
person. Provided you get the right instruction and
know what you’re doing, there is nothing more
amazing that spending some quality time with
Mother Nature. It’s an instant reminder of how
magnificent this world and everything around it
But it can also be downright exhausting.
Humping a 15- or 20-pound pack up a seemingly
endless series of switchbacks in order to get higher
and deeper into the mountains can absolutely beat
you into submission. At the base of the climb,
you start out chipper and confident, completely
assured you’ll soar right up the ascent. By half-way
up — and perhaps earlier — you start considering
thoughts of turning around, as the top appears
further and further away. And when you finally get
to the top, the only thing you want to do is sit and
take a break.
Which is exactly the last thing you want to do.
One minute resting will easily turn into five and
then 30. In fact, unless anyone kicks you free from
your spot, there’s a good chance you will wind up
sleeping on the hillside.
But if you keep that body in motion? Well, it’ll
stay in motion. I learned early on that you need to
keep on moving and pushing, no matter what, and
especially when the path is easy.
Which leads me back to the industry. We just
crested one heck of a hill. After several years of
suffering through competitive bidding mayhem,
getting buried by audits, and dealing with a variety
of other hassles, the industry is now looking at a
legislative and regulatory landscape that is looking
a lot more hospitable. The long years of fighting
might finally be over. (For more details on that,
read “Fingers Crossed.” It features a variety of experts who will
tell you how the situation has changed and what
the industry plans to do next.)
No Rest for the Weary
And that’s what worries me: The industry
has worked extremely hard to redefine itself
throughout its struggles, and in the process it has
become more robust and resourceful.
Businesses that had once depended on Medicare
for 80 percent of their revenues figured out how to
diversify their revenue streams through opportunities
such as retail sales, private payer insurance and
facilities-based care, so that they have much more
sustainable cash flow.
Businesses once using cobbled-together billing
procedures, bloated inventory and inefficient
workflows leveraged the capabilities of information
technology to create highly efficient businesses
with extremely low cost overheads and billing
procedures that ensure fast funding.
Business that were struggling to find ways to
provide quality care in the face of winnowing
reimbursement started using patient monitoring
to not only improve outcomes but reinforce their
Despite all the trouble HME providers faced
during the years leading up to this welcome
reprieve, they not only fought for their businesses
and patients on Capitol Hill, but they created
much more agile, resilient and sustainable business
models in the process. Now that the industry
might finally be seeing an end to an arduous climb,
for pity’s sake do not stop to take a break. Now is
the time to keep innovating, building and growing.
Let’s stay in motion.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.